Osaka was Aaron and I’s first stop in Japan. The city is bust with lights, arcades, pachinko slots and people crowding the streets that could overwhelm any first time traveller. I know I was engulfed by the crowds one time when I was travelling with my aunt. It was my first time travelling to Japan and I was soooo excited to be there. Japan had always been at the top of my destination hit list so it was almost surreal.
There is so much to see in Osaka, not to mention trying all the amazing food. Specialties such as Okonomiyaki (my personal favourite – cabbage pancakes) or Takoyaki, little fired octopus balls drizzled in brown sauce and sprinkled with dancing fish flakes. These alone are enough to convince anyone to make a detour to come to Osaka. Having been to Osaka two times now I seemed to have narrowed the Top Five Things To Do In Osaka for first timers 😀
Top Five Things To Do In Osaka
Minami Namba: The heart of Osaka. There you will find the famous giant crab and bloat fishes hanging in front of restaurants in Dotonbori and the neon “running man.” Make sure to take a cliche tourist photo copying him. Trust me, you won’t be the only one looking silly with one leg in the air and your arms flinging forward!
If your like me you could easily spend the day running around what seems to be endless shops and sweets and tiny restaurants hidden in the side alleys. After a long day of shopping head over to the Tsutaya Starbucks to relax with a soy latte (soy is called Tōnyū). I know it sounds like cheating but Starbucks has one of the best views to people watch!
Osaka Aquarium: Known for its whale shark, the Osaka Aquarium is sure to be exciting stop for travellers. And its right beside a ferris wheel. Which brings me to my next highlight:
Osaka Ferris Wheel: Right beside Osaka Aquarium the ferris wheel is about JPY 700 and gives incredible views of the city. I’m a big scaredy cat when it comes to heights so I’m pretty sure I cried a little when Aaron was moving around. He was trying to get a photo and made the cart shake #bigbaby. My recommendation is to see the aquarium first and then enjoy the Ferris wheel at night so you can see the entire city lit up.
Osaka Castle: without doing any research on the castle I was surprised to find the castle had been turned into a museum. The top of Osaka Castle has an observation deck giving gorgeous panoramic views of the city. Slightly disappointed that the castle had been hollowed out and transformed; I truly enjoyed the information and monuments the museum. You’ll find things like artifacts and samurai tradition wear which is breathtaking.
Try the local food: Mizuno by Dotonbori is said to have the best Okonomiyaki and is famous for their yam Okonomiyaki. Along with blending soba noodles into some of their dishes they create a new twist on traditional food. Vegetarians beware – being a vegetarian for 9 years I was pained to see the food being handled with the same utensils as the meat. A good second choice is Sennichimae Hatsuse if you’re looking for food. It’s an amazing restaurant where you can make your own Okonomiyaki in your own private room. I loved this because when you cook it yourself you know there is no meat going into your food.
Hololulu Cafe was a lifesaver though. I actually love healthy food and was so happy when I saw they had an acai bowl. It came with a mountain of granola too!
I also trued the macadamia nut pancake and Aaron got the coffee one, both were delicious!
While I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of time in Osaka, I recommend two full days to shop, relax and enjoy the city spectacles!
Want to know more about Japan? Check out these posts!